Terrapin, Diamondback

Malaclemys terrapin

Diamondback terrapins have a light brown, gray, or black colored carapace with concentric diamond shapes. Their limbs and head are gray in color and covered in darker spots. The feet are webbed with strong claws used for climbing. Females are larger than males, but have shorter tails. Adult males can reach up to 15 centimeters in length and females can reach up to 23 centimeters in length.








From Cape Cod to Texas, along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.


Diamondback terrapins prefer brackish waters of coastal lagoons, estuaries and marshes.

Life Expectancy

Up to 25-40 years

Sexual Maturity


In the wild their diet consists of small bivalves, crustaceans, fish, and worms.


IUCN - Lower Risk/Near Threatened


Diamondback terrapins are a diurnal species, spending their day basking and feeding on a variety of shelled creatures, fish, and worms. Breeding season occurs from March to May, with eggs being laid from April to July. Females dig nests along the sandy edges of marshes and in sand dunes. The nests measure 20 centimeters in depth and 10 centimeters in width. Females can lay between two and five clutches a year. Each clutch has between four and 22 eggs. Diamondback terrapins have temperature dependent sex determination, similar to other reptiles. Cooler temperatures produce males, while warmer temperatures produce females. Incubation takes between nine and 15 weeks. Main predators of diamondback terrapin hatchlings include a variety of birds, such as herons and gulls. At adulthood, males can reach up to 15 centimeters in length while females reach up to 23 centimeters in length.


Special Interests



A major threat to nesting females is road mortality. While in search of a proper nesting site, females may have to cross roadways resulting in car strikes. Other threats include coastal development and accidental crab trap drownings.

Jacksonville Zoo History


Wild Florida